The bedrock of our so­ci­ety

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

TO­DAY marks the start of Women’s Month and Au­gust 9 is Women’s Day. Let us not for­get the true sig­nif­i­cance of the day. In­au­gu­rated in 1994, when South Africa at­tained democ­racy, Women’s Day cel­e­brates the po­lit­i­cal strength, fe­male sol­i­dar­ity and in­ner for­ti­tude of women who took part in the 1956 march led by Lil­ian Ngoyi, He­len Joseph, Al­bertina Sisulu and Sophia Wil­liams-De Bruyn to protest against the racist law that re­quired blacks to carry a “pass”, which re­stricted their free­dom of move­ment.

More than 20 000 women marched to the Union Build­ings in Pre­to­ria where they de­liv­ered a pe­ti­tion con­tain­ing more than 100 000 sig­na­tures to Prime Min­is­ter JG Stri­j­dom’s of­fices.

Au­gust is ded­i­cated to the cel­e­bra­tion of women’s achieve­ments, and to pro­mote their free­dom and so­cial and eco­nomic equal­ity.

Each day, more than two bil­lion women awaken with the daunt­ing task of en­gag­ing, sur­viv­ing and get­ting the job done in a male-dom­i­nated world. This pa­tri­ar­chal sys­tem has pre­vailed for more than 6 000 years. In al­most ev­ery cor­ner of im­por­tance to mankind, whether it be re­li­gion, gov­ern­ment, busi­ness or pol­i­tics, men have dom­i­nated and ex­cluded women from play­ing a mean­ing­ful role. Al­though the bal­ance is shift­ing, there’s a moun­tain to climb be­fore women have an equal play­ing field. Women work two-thirds of the world’s work­ing hours and pro­duce half the world’s food, yet earn only 10% of the world’s in­come.Ev­ery day, women are mur­dered, phys­i­cally and sex­u­ally as­saulted, threat­ened and hu­mil­i­ated by their part­ners, within their own homes. It is es­ti­mated that about 150 women are raped ev­ery day.If you are a vic­tim of vi­o­lence, re­mem­ber the law is on your side. If you are a wit­ness and re­main silent, you are help­ing to fur­ther the abuse.

When women marched on the bas­tions of apartheid power in 1956, they voiced their dis­gust and op­po­si­tion in the words of a sim­ple state­ment of power, au­thor­ity and de­ter­mi­na­tion:

(You strike a woman, you strike a rock). Women are the foun­da­tion of so­ci­ety.

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